You are not logged in.
Lost Password?

Welcome to the third dimension! On this site you will learn everything about Nintendo's Virtual Reality experiment, the Virtual Boy. Released back in 1995 only in Japan and North America, the system failed all along the line and disappeared from the market less than a year later, quietly and without any official word. Only 22 games were released for the Virtual Boy during its short lifespan. Here we want to build a memorial for this unique oddity of videogame history. Dedicated to its brilliant creator, Gunpei Yokoi.


VBDE 1.3.0 with VUEngine 6.0 out now

Here is the brand new version 1.3.0 of VBDE, featuring version 6.0 of the VUEngine.

Choose your flavor - the lightweight "regular" edition comes with Notepad++ as its editor, while the Pro edition is bundled with a proper IDE, IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition, as its default editor, as well as Git for version control.

A new release of the VUEngine Platformer Demo is also available here, built on the latest engine and coming with another layer of polish.

Following is an overview of the major new VUEngine features.

VUEngine Preprocessor

This is one of the two major changes on which we have been working non stop the past couple of months, besides the usual bug fixes, performance improvements and code clean up. VUEngine 6.0 is the first release to include a brand new code syntax, closer to that of C++.

The new syntax is supported by the VUEngine Preprocessor, which consist of a group of seamlessly integrated scripts that convert, before compilation, the new code into the old C-macros that we implemented to support some object oriented features.

The hope is that the new syntax, by being a lot friendlier and familiar, would entice some developers to try out the tools that we have developed over all these years, without having to overcome the steep learning curve that the heavy use of macros required.

This is just the first step into an easier, and safer, to use VUEngine, but by no means is the final state of the preprocessor. In the future, we hope to replace the scripts with a proper grammar parser that should help to reduce the preprocessing and compilation times, while enabling us to make more improvements to the syntax.

VUEngine Plugin Library

VUEngine is making a big step towards a more modular architecture with the VUEngine Plugin Library (formerly "VUEngine Components"), a library of reuseable, prefab components like entities, states or fonts, that can be easily included in your VUEngine project for a good headstart and/or to add new functionality.

For example, the library covers all the basic needs of a Virtual Boy game, like an automatic pause feature, a blinking low battery indicator, various splash screens or even a save data manager to work with Save RAM, so you can focus on writing the actual game. It also offers a broad selection of ready to use fonts, effects and special entities, with more to come in the future.

See the readme for a full list of currently available plugins.

VUEngine Editor Templates

Speed up your development process even more with the new VUEngine file and live templates available in VBDE Pro.

Live templates are a way to quickly produce pre-defined blocks of code like function bodies, macros or definitions. Included right now are the most important ones. Simply type "." in the editor and a list of all the available templates pops up. Select one, or continue typing to narrow down the list:
  • .f for functions
  • .m for macros
  • .d for definitions
  • .p for partials

Pressing Enter or Tab unfolds the choosen template and guides you through a few variables where applicable (tab through these).

File templates takes these a step further. Right click in the project browser, then select "New" and, for instance, "VUEngine Entity Definition" to create a new file that contains a live template which guides you through the creation of an EntityDefinition.

VUEngine Multiplayer support

The new communication class brings multiplayer capabilities via the link cable to the VUEngine. This is a very lightweight implementation that only allows for very basic data transmission, leaving the details of logic synchronization to the game's code.

VirtualTap embeddable video-out mod board

Furrtek is now offering "VirtualTap", an embeddable video-out mod board for the Nintendo Virtual Boy for a price of 40 EUR. It's a small board that goes in between the mainboard's connector and any of the two displays' ribbon cable.

  • Pixel-perfect scaling, crisp video output.
  • Select any of 8 palettes: Red (default), yellow, green, cyen, blue, magenta, white, white inverted.
  • Install on either left or right eye displays, or both.
  • Two versions available: VGA and NTSC RGB.
  • Choose yourself between low-lag or no-tearing options.
  • Can fit inside the VirtualBoy unit itself.
  • Simple install, minimal wiring.

The relatively simple install requires you to solder a video output cable and palette switch (7 wires max.) to your VirtualTap, as well as modify your Virtual Boy's shell to cut some holes for these.

More info at Furrtek.

You can also find source code for a servo board emulator on the VirtualTap Github repo. It emulates the mechanical parts of the optical system and basically just tells the mainboard that the displays are there and operating properly, while effectively replacing them. Using this, people have already created smaller consoles out of your modded Virtual Boy.

Yan's World Patreon campaign started

Yan's World, a cute, Virtual Boy style platform game starring a pillow-throwing onion, has been in development for PC for a few years by Heraga (aka Nin) and his team. A Patreon campaign has just been started to fund the further development of the game, including a port to the actual Virtual Boy.


How to work around the VB's color limitations

Three shades of red plus black, that's it regarding colors on the Virtual Boy. But there are tricks to work around this limitation and experimenting with these has been on my TO DO list for a long time.

Time to tick that off. Here's a simple demo demonstrating three different ways to display more than four colors on the Virtual Boy simultaneously. These are:

1. Dither

We're starting off with good ol' dithering. OK, this is technically cheating since we do not really show more than 4 colors at once, but still, dithering at least creates a good illusion of a more color rich images, while not relying on any technical trickery.

2. Column Table

Through the Column Table's brightness repeat register, it is possible to change the amount of light emitted by the display LEDs (and thus the perceived brightness) every fourth pixel column.

This allows for a huge range of different shades of red on screen at the same time, but practical use cases are very limited, since you're bound to the grid of 4px columns and brightness changes always affecting the whole screen height.

3. Blending

This one is the heart of this demo and the actual show piece. By exploiting the persistence of vision effect of the human eye it is possible to display 8 different colors on screen at the same time.

It works by blending together two images, that is overlaying one image with another, half transparent one. Half transparency is achieved by simply displaying that image only every second frame.

Beware that this trick does not work very well on emulators but produces pretty stable colors on real hardware.



Project MAIDEN announced

trailboss has announced MAIDEN, a rail shooter that aims to land on Virtual Boy and Steam in early 2019.

MAIDEN is a rail shooter in which colossal humanoid robots known as Maidens fuel a global struggle over resources. You control a team of pilots fighting their neighboring country over an energy mine. Your team is underfunded, understaffed, and ill-prepared for the battle ahead, but you're willing to fight until your dying breath. You'll venture across cities, deserts, forests, and mountains both in air and on land. The world of MAIDEN comes alive thanks to a mixture of hand-drawn pixel art and prerendered 3D models. MAIDEN aims to be the ultimate Virtual Boy technical showcase.

A Kickstarter campaign is said to happen next month. Check out the MAIDEN Development Thread for more information and regular development updates.